GOLOCAL

Covid-19 and the resulting nationwide lockdown showed just how fast circumstances can change, jobs can be lost and families can go wanting.

Fortunately, despite wide-reaching financial hardship, there are still those in Rotorua who are willing to go out of their way to help others get by.

This year's Blankets with Love Rotorua, run by community support platform Just Because, saw about 70 brand new blankets distributed to families in need of some extra warmth this winter.

Co-ordinator Debbie Cobby said she was unsure about running the appeal this year, as many people who in the past would have willingly donated, may now be unable to due to financial reasons.

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But the fact remained that the freezing temperatures were here and there were children and families in need of warmth and love. With uncertainty around social distancing, she asked that anyone who was able to donate a small amount of money for new blankets or to knit or crochet blankets, hats and scarves.

"It did go well, obviously it wasn't as good as the first or second year, but I'm still really pleased with the way it went after the decision of whether we would even do it or not. I'm happy we're going to be able to provide warmth to some children.

"There were a few people who said 'I can't give much' but I told them that doesn't matter. When everyone does their little bit, it adds up to something much bigger. There were still people out there who, despite things being a bit harder for them after lockdown, wanted to help which was really cool.

"We managed to distribute 70 blankets, a dozen sets of pyjamas and some beanies."

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The blankets and clothing are given to organisations such as Plunket, Women's Refuge and STAND who are better placed to decide how they should be distributed.

A driving force behind this year's appeal was Swim-Able's Maxine Parker and Marie Heathy who organised a Polar Plunge which raised $730 for new blankets.

"The majority of the donations came through that," Cobby said.

"Maxine was able to donate that much money but she also came on board to help me buy the blankets and distribute them. She has really helped make the appeal that little bit easier and special this year."

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Swim-Able coach Maxine Parker held a fundraiser which raised more than $700 for Blankets with Love. Photo / Supplied
Swim-Able coach Maxine Parker held a fundraiser which raised more than $700 for Blankets with Love. Photo / Supplied

Swim-Able is a swimming school all about ensuring people of all abilities have the same opportunities as others which Parker said aligned with the work Cobby was doing.

"Marie and I, when they let us back in the lake before pools were open, started doing that," Parker said.

"People were calling us crazy because it was so cold so we thought we could fundraise for people, they can pay to call us crazy.

"Marie saw the newspaper article about Blankets with Love and we think along the same lines as Debby - community helping community."

HUGE THANK YOU to those who braved the threat of rain to take part or came and supported our polar plunge in the Blue...

Posted by Swim-Able NZ on Saturday, 20 June 2020

She said 12 people did the plunge in the lake and she was extremely grateful to all who donated.

"People had a bit of fun and raced in, we had some hot drinks afterwards. It's not as bad as you'd think, it's a good mental challenge.

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"It is a bit sad that there is still such a need for this sort of thing in our community but that's why we need to support each other. You don't plan on being made redundant or having injuries or anything like that."

Swim-Able's Maxine Parker drops off a box of blankets to Plunket Rotorua community services co-ordinator Louise Perese as part of the Blankets with Love appeal. Photo / Supplied
Swim-Able's Maxine Parker drops off a box of blankets to Plunket Rotorua community services co-ordinator Louise Perese as part of the Blankets with Love appeal. Photo / Supplied

Rotorua Plunket community services co-ordinator Louise Perese received the blankets and clothing on behalf of Plunket and said the nurses there were perfectly placed to distribute them.

"This sort of thing is so important, it's very helpful. Plunket nurses are going into homes all the time where warm clothing and blankets are needed for children. A lot of families are doing it rough at the moment.

"It's very hard to keep some of these homes warm for the children so it's great that the nurses are able to take knitted clothing and blankets to them.

"It shows these families and children that there are people out in the community who do care about them and want to help."